CES 2012: LG adds Google TVs, Smart TVs get voice and gesture control

Consumer Reports News: January 09, 2012 01:08 PM

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LG Electronics is adding new sets with Google TV to its lineup, which will allow users to download apps from the Android Market and surf the web using the Chrome browser. The company is also adding voice and gesture control to its SmartTV platform, finally giving Jets fans like me a different reason to yell at their TV.

There will be two Google TV series--the LMG620 and the LMG 860—this year, offered in 47- and 55-inch screen sizes. The LCD TVs, which use edge LED backlights, are expected to arrive in March. The step-up 860 sets have a glass-to-the-edge design plus ther equivalent of 240Hz technology (120Hz plus a scanning backlight).

Thanks to a software update issued last fall, LG’s new Google TVs will be able to access the Andoid apps market, and browse the Web using Google’s Chrome browser. The TVs will come with a customized, dual-sided version of the Magic Motion remote control that includes gesture-based control, a click wheel, and a QWERTY keyboard.

LG’s passive Cinema 3D technology and its Smart TV Internet service are greatly expanded in its 2012 TV lineup; half the sets this year will include both technologies. (There will also be two lower-priced series that include just one of these technologies.) Since one benefit of LG’s passive 3D technology is that they work with lightweight, inexpensive polarized 3D glasses like the ones you get in movie theaters, LG is upping the ante in most models by including six pairs of free glasses—up from four sets last year.

New features include a 3D depth control, which allows users to adjust the degree of the 3D effect, and a better 2D-to-3D conversion capability for creating 3D effects with non-3D programs and movies. A new audio processing technology, called Sound Zooming, can sync with the 3D picture for accompanying 3D sound effects.

This year, all TVs with LG’s Smart TV platform will come with built-in Wi-Fi--except for one plasma series, which comes with a Wi-Fi dongle--and all now support Intel’s Wireless Display (WiDi) technology, which lets you beam content—such as music, photos and videos-- from your PC or notebook to your TV.

Smart TVs also get an updated home dashboard that’s easier to use, with more premium content tiles or “cards” appearing onscreen, reducing the number of clicks required to access content. The dashboard can be customized for up to five different users. And most models come with an updated gesture-based Magic Motion remote control that’s smaller and more ergonomic, with a click wheel to help improve scrolling-type navigation.

James K. Willcox

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